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Stranger than fiction

April 6th, 2009 (12:03 pm)

current mood: contemplative

I declared Sunday "Becky Day." Having already prepared dinner so it could be eaten whenever it was wanted, I left The Compound for the gym just after ten a.m. I didn't realize that the pool doesn't open until noon on Sunday. My plan had been to swim, shower, and go to Murder By the Book for a signing. Instead, after a few minutes in the whirlpool, I showered and drove to Starbucks to read the paper and drink coffee until it was time to go to the bookstore.

I went to see one of my favorite mystery writers—I think I've posted about signings for her first three books, and now her fourth, A Date You Can't Refuse, is out. I'm speaking of Harley Jane Kozak.

I got lucky and ran into Dean James at the signing, as well. Sometime back, I accidentally missed Dean's signing for the release of his final Trailer Park Mystery, Leftover Dead, (written under the pseudonym Jimmie Ruth Evans). So I hadn't read it and didn't have a signed copy; I got to rectify that on Sunday.

Two authors, two books. A good afternoon.

One of the things Harley Jane Kozak talked about was how the reviews for her mystery series often mention the crazy situations she creates for her heroine, greeting card artist Wollie Shelley. Kozak does a great deal of background research, and while she admits that some of Wollie's adventures may be implausible, she always makes sure they are possible. This led to a discussion between Kozak and her readers at the signing about how real life is often far more bizarre than anything fiction writers can contrive.

I've talked about this before on my LJ—how people sometimes criticize the TJB books for some of the coincidences found within, but those things are far less frequent in what we write than in how our lives unfold.

All of that was in the back of my mind as I ran more errands and continued "Becky Day." I ended up at another Starbucks and opened my laptop to start working on an e-mail I'd promised to send Dean. But I'd been trying to find some older photos of Lynne's grandbaby Lila that weren't on my PC, so first I checked to make sure they were on my laptop. They were. In looking for them, I noticed the folder containing myriad photos I'd used for a slideshow I created and played after my mother's memorial service.

I haven't watched it since August, and I wasn't sure if a public place would be a good time to revisit it. Curiosity got the best of me, however, so I muted the sound, thinking that maybe the photos without the music wouldn't have the same emotional impact.

Of course, I ended up sitting in Starbucks with tears streaming down my face, but fortunately the only other customers were not in my line of vision. The last photo in the slideshow is one of my parents walking together down the beach as the sun sets. I could hear the music in my head that would be playing if the sound was on—the last few notes of a piano instrumental, fairly obscure now, that was popular in the 1960s. My parents used to slow dance to it in our living room—"Last Date," by Floyd Cramer.

When I reached for my mouse to close the slideshow as it ended, the song changed on Starbucks' sound system—to someone's** rendition of "Last Date."

As Harley Jane Kozak had said only a few hours before, "You can't make this stuff up."

**ETA: "Someone" turned out to be R.E.M. Who knew?


If you own any of the books in the opposite side bar and would like them signed, mail them to:
P.O. Box 924104
Houston, TX 77292
Please include three dollars for return postage. Thank you.

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